Mr. Ibori’s spokesperson, Tony Eluemuno, confirmed his arrival to Newsmen.
He said the former governor was in Abuja.
An official of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, told
the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday that the British Airways
conveying Mr. Ibori touched down in the airport early in the morning.
The official, pleading anonymity, said the former governor was picked
up by some people to an undisclosed place.
He also said he could not confirm the identity of the people that
picked him up from the airport.
The former governor was later on Saturday evening sighted in his
country home Oghara in Delta state.
It would be recalled that James Ibori was one of the arrow heads for
the 2003 Presidential ambition of former Vice President Atiku
Abubakar. This was to come against the ambition of the then President
Olusegun Obasanjo who was Atiku’s boss.
When Obasanjo won the re election he decided to punish all the
governors who worked for Atiku. They included James Ibori and former
governor of Bayelsa state Alameseigha who was also jailed in London
at that time.
Ibori later helped in the emergence of former President Musa YarAdua
and became very powerful when Yar Adus was the President of Nigeria
a development that pitched him against YarAdua’s deputy Goodluck
When Jonathan later became President he ensured that Ibori was put
behind bars to avoid distractions during his tenure.
James Ibori, the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta state from 1999
to 2007, was arrested in Dubai in 2010 after avoiding capture in
Nigeria. He was extradited to the U.K., where he pled guilty in 2012
to 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering totaling
around £50 million ($77 million at the time).
He was released in December 2016 having served half of his 13-year
sentence, including pre-trial detention. Ibori is currently appealing
against his conviction on the basis of allegations that a British
police officer took bribes for information on his case. Ibori’s
conviction currently bars him from running for political office for 10
years, but this would be nullified if his conviction was
Speaking outside a London courthouse Tuesday, Ibori told Reuters that
in African politics, “you are in it until you die.”
“I am a politician, I will always be a politician. I play the politics
in my party and in my country for the good of my people,” said Ibori,
Ibori governed for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), currently in
opposition in Nigeria, and remains hugely popular in the country’s
south. Following his release, a YouTube video showed Ibori being
welcomed with cheers by supporters that included a sitting senator
from Delta state.
The Delta state government, which is administered by the PDP, welcomed
Ibori’s release, with state information commissioner Patrick Ukah
describing him as “our son, our brother” and “somebody that everybody
During his time as governor, Ibori built up an impressive portfolio of
foreign properties and luxury cars, including a £2.2 million ($2.8
million) London mansion and a Bentley worth £120,000 ($150,000),
according to the BBC.
Since Ibori has been in prison, Nigeria’s federal government has
changed hands from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress, after APC
candidate Muhammadu Buhari defeated former PDP incumbent Goodluck
Jonathan in the 2015 election. Buhari has made tackling corruption a
cornerstone of his administration, but has so far failed to secure any
high-profile convictions, although several trials are on going. Ibori
was also linked to four offshore companies in the Panama Papers Leak.